Archive for September 6th, 2008

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part III: Jury picked out, trial begins on Tuesday

September 6, 2008

As the Jury has been picked out in the Maletagate trial, we
learn that Globovision will have a reporter at the trial, which will help us
learn all of the details of the case. Her name is Verioska Velasco and you can
hear one of her reports here
and as you can see they try to establish the link between the Chavista
candidate for Mayor of the Metropolitan area, Aristobulo Isturiz, and the case,
as Isturiz was Minister of Education when the funds from that Ministry were
moved to an unspecified bank by Duran and Kauffmann who received a juicy
commission.

Duran’s lawyer tried to have the charges against his client
dismissed arguing that Duran was not aware
of the obscure legislation being issued to try him. The judge has already
dismissed that possibility, saying this was irrelevant and dismissing the
argument.

The Judge has yet to rule on a separate motion by the
defense to bar any evidence of prior crimes by Duran and Kauffmann as irrelevant
to the case. The Prosecutor however, has argued that this is quite relevant as
it shows Duran already had strong ties to the Government, which were a prelude
to offering Guido Antonini money to keep silent as to the origin of the US$
800,000 found in the suitcase as he entered Argentina. The Prosecutors argument
is that while Antonini and Duran were friends, Duran’s offer was made in order
to help the Venezuelan officials he was working for. In the earlier stages of the case Duran told FBI
agents about his corrupt exploits in Venezuela which now the Prosecution wants
to use in the case as evidence.

The jury selection was completed in two days and the trial
should begin on Tuesday. The prosecution has videos and tapes of the
conversations between those accused, of which Duran is the only not to plead
guilty by now, and Guido Antonini as they tried to convince him to stay silent.

If the judge allows the testimony of the prior illegal acts
by Duran and Kauffmann in Venezuela, the Prosecution is expected to have
Kauffmann testify on all of the techniques and schemes used by him and Duran to
obtain juicy commissions and pay off Venezuelan Government officials many of
which are still in office.

Electric sector begins to show Chavez’ recipe for disaster

September 6, 2008

Hugo Chavez cut short his visit to South Africa, reportedly to take
charge of the electricity problem after last Monday’s blackout, but the
truth is that he came back early because as Venezuela’s power went on
the blink on Monday, reports came out showing a drop in the
Government’s popularity which was not going to be helped by the
nationwide power shortage.

Then, in an improvised nationwide TV address Chavez tried his old
formula of blaming the past, saying he is in charge and promising that
in three months the whole problem will be solved. Of course, the
deadline is right after the regional elections, just so that nobody can
say he promised and did not deliver before then.

And there is no way he can deliver, because his speech was a potpourri
of lies and incoherent facts, none of which are based on the reality of
the country’s electric grid. In fact, even the simplistic explanation
given by the Government, a sudden fault in one of the trunk lines,
seemed fishy as not everything on this side of the guilty fault
actually lost power.

The reality is that the bombastic energy plan announced in December
2006, has not been able to fulfill its goals for the electric sector in
its first two years, as most projects are still in the drawing board
and they are not even at the stage of ordering equipment.

Meanwhile, there has been little investment and maintainance since
1998. Chavez suggested that there had been no maintenance in the Tacoa
plant since 1981, but this was one of those lies he delivered with a
straight face, which had no foundation, Tacoa was built in 1978 and
suffered a fire in 1982 that required major repairs.

And a similar charge about Guri holds no water (yes, it’s a pun), as
without Guri the problem would be quite severe. Chavez also lied about
Caruache, which he says was in shambles when he arrived in 1998.
Nothing further from the truth, the Caruache plant was on schedule in
1997.

As an example, an engineer formerly in charge of Planning at Edelca,
which runs Guri, said that at the Planta Centro power plant, one unit
stopped working in 2000, another in 2002 and the remainder lines are
functioning at 50% capacity. Chavez suggested that one of the units in
Planta Centro was going on line as if he had bought it and delivered it
as part of investment under him, but the truth is that this unit broke
down and has finally been fixed.

Chavez mentioned projects, which are really not part of the solution.
He spoke of 32 projects but none are major and the one he devoted the
most time about, is a regional project with no direct link to the
national network.

The truth is that Venezuela has daily rationing of power and blackouts
are the daily fare in the interior of Venezuela This was the second
large blackout this year and Caracas, where blackouts were rare before
the nationalization of Electricidad de Caracas, has joined the country
in suffering from regular problems.

Like many other things in the country, the power grid suffers from too
much politics and too little management as military displaced
professional managers in the major electric corporations and
professional teams were disbanded. Add no investment and lack of
maintenance and this was another Chavez recipe for disaster in the
making.

Add a small emergency power plant to the future needs of your home. This problem will not be solved anytime soon.

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